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"As a stay at home mum, the RAF lifestyle can be a culture shock"

This Mother's Day, we talk to Charlie Whitford, an RAF spouse who has been supported by the Fund's Thrive programme. Thrive looks at building self esteem within the dependant community, helping them to return to work. Charlie tells us the difference it's made for her.

The RAF life wasn't one I chose for myself and when my husband and I married it wasn't one we had experienced. It was quite a culture shock when he joined up, even though I had been reluctant, and I found it difficult to adjust to a lifestyle I hadn't envisaged for myself.

Charlie Witford and family

I have struggled with my mental health for a long time, having gone through Post Natal Depression following the birth of our second child. Being part of the RAF Family has led to feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth as our lifestyle means we are constantly moving around. I don't stay anywhere long enough to form meaningful friendships.

The Thrive workshops looked really, really good – something to help RAF spouses find their own value and self-worth, leading to better employment prospects. Employment and employability is a major concern or me.

I took part in the course in October and I'm still using some of the coping mechanisms we were shown – I've even got my children involved. Every morning we list three things we are grateful for and every day I make my bed, because even if the rest of the day is a write-off at least I have achieved something.

I found the whole course really useful and would like to thank the RAF Benevolent Fund for supporting us in this way.

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